Frank Hastings Burns

Frank H. Burns

Burns has an entry among index cards kept by Nathaniel R. Perkins, MD, who examined thousands of men who were going into the war, 1914-1918. Given by Mrs N. R. Perkins in accordance with instructions from her late husband, Dr. Nathaniel P. Perkins of 1122 Adams St, Dorchester.

Frank H. Burns,  35 Colonial Ave, Dorchester

Frank Hastings Burns.  By Camille Arbogast

Frank Hastings Burns was born on February 22, 1889, in Damariscotta, Maine, to Helen (Hastings), known as Nellie, and Lewis R. Burns. Both parents were born in Bristol, Maine. They married in Boston on July 3, 1884. At the time of his marriage, Lewis was a mariner.

In 1900, Frank lived in Bristol, Maine, with his paternal grandmother, Betsy Burns, and his uncle Robert, a fish peddler. His parents were in Boston; Nellie lodged at 7 Albion Street, while Lewis worked as a railroad break-man and lived with his brother, a buggy-maker, at 37 Gray Street. Nellie died of variola, or smallpox, on April 22, 1902, in the midst of Boston’s last smallpox epidemic. After a twelve-day illness, she died at the Southampton Street Detention Hospital, the primary hospital in the city treating smallpox patients. Her residence was recorded as 7 Webster Avenue. In June 1902, Frank’s maternal grandfather, Frank G. Hastings, was appointed his guardian. That September, Lewis petitioned the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for guardianship “of Frank H. Burns of Boston … minor.” In 1904, as guardian of Frank’s estate, Lewis sold property in Maine of which Frank was a partial owner.

Frank attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, class of 1911, where he pledged Zeta Psi.

After graduation he worked for the New York Telephone Company in New York City. In June 1917, Frank was living with his father at 35 Colonial Avenue near Codman Square and working for the Boston Advertiser Company of 309 Washington Street, Boston.

Frank enlisted in the Regular Army on December 12, 1917. He served in the 21st Photo Section, Air Service, Military Aeronautics. A Boston Globe article listing recent recruits reported Frank enlisted as a “photographer for Aviation Section.” Air Service Photographic Sections, comprised of an officer and 24 men, developed and interpreted aerial reconnaissance photographs taken by pilots or observers in airplanes or observation balloons. These photographs were used for planning bombardments or attacks, and were often made into composite photographic maps. From his career in advertising, Frank may have known how to create composite photographic images and photo layouts, and perhaps had experience taking and developing photographs.

Frank sailed overseas on October 16, 1918, leaving from Hoboken, New Jersey, on the USS Agamemnon. He was promoted to Sergeant on November 1, 1918. In February 1919, he returned to the United States, departing on the first of the month from Saint-Nazaire, France, sailing on the SS Kroonland, and arriving on February 18. After demobilization at Camp Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts, Frank was discharged on March 21, 1919.

Frank returned to 35 Colonial Avenue, and in 1920 he was an advertising agent for a newspaper. His father continued to work as a break-man for a steam railroad. Also living with them was Frank’s aunt, Nellie M. Fassett, who was a housekeeper for a private family.

On February 9, 1922, Frank married Kate Williams in Cambridge. Originally from Bangor, Maine, Kate was living in Cambridge and working as a saleswoman. They were married by Reverend Raymond Calkins of the Congregationalist First Church in Cambridge. The couple had two daughters, Betsy and Margaret.

Frank and Kate initially lived at 376 Riverway in Boston. In 1928, Frank was hired by the B.C. Forbes Publishing Company of 120 Fifth Avenue, New York City, publishers of Forbes magazine. Starting out as an advertising representative, Frank spent the rest of his career with the company, rising to Vice-President and Director of Advertising of Public Relations in 1951. In 1940, he made $5,000 a year.

After Frank took the job with B.C. Forbes, he and his family moved to Mount Vernon, in Westchester County, New York. By 1930, they lived on Beechtree Lane in the Bronxville section of Eastchester, New York, their home for twenty years. On August 31, 1950, Kate died at age 56.

In the 1950s, his daughters attended Colby College and Frank was active with the Colby College Parents Association. Frank was also a member of the State of Maine Society of New York, serving as the organization’s vice-president. By the early 1960s, Frank was splitting his time between Bronxville and Warren, Maine. He moved fulltime to Warren by the mid-1960s. At the end of his life he was a resident of Americana Healthcare Center in Lafayette, Indiana, near to his daughter Margaret, who lived in West Lafayette.

In the spring of 1984, Frank fractured his hip. During his recovery at Saint Elizabeth Hospital Medical Center in Lafayette, Indiana, Frank died of a heart attack on April 9, 1984, at age 95. He was cremated at the West Haven Memorial Park Crematory in Lafayette and buried in the Bristol Mills Cemetery in Bristol, Maine.


Lewis Burns and Nellie Hastings marriage record, Massachusetts, Marriage Records 1840-1915, New England Historic Genealogical Society; Boston, Massachusetts; Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911–1915;

U.S. Federal Census, 1900, 1920, 1930, 1940;

Nellie Hastings Burns death record; Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts;

Maine County, District and Probate Courts, Probate Place: Lincoln, Maine;

General Catalogue of Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME: Bowdoin College, 1912;

Zeta Psi Fraternity Pocket Directory, 1912;

World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration;

Military, Compiled Service Records. World War I. Carded Records. Records of the Military Division of the Adjutant General’s Office, Massachusetts National Guard.

“Shipload of T-N-T, Potsdamn Via Belgium,” Boston Globe, 13 December 1917: 9;

“United States, Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940:”

Sweetser, Arthur. The American Air Service: A Record of Its Problems, Its Difficulties, Its Failures, and Its Final Achievements. NY: D. Appleton and Company, 1919;

Lists of Outgoing & Incoming Passengers, 1917-1938. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985, The National Archives at College Park, Maryland;

“Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915,”

The Bowdoin Alumnus, November 1928, Vol 2 No 1;

“Announce Rentals,” Bronxville Review, 26 April 1930: 20;

Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Records of the Selective Service System, National Archives and Records Administration;

“Obituary,” New York Times, 2 Sept 1950: 12;

“Donald Winship Weds Margaret Owen Burns,” New York Times, 27 May 1962: 87;

“Miss Betsy Burns. Planning Marriage,” New York Times, 27 October 1964: 45;

Masthead; Forbes Magazine, 1 April 1951;

The Pine Cone; A Panorama of Maine. Spring 1952. Portland, ME: The State of Maine Publicity Bureau;

Indiana State Board of Health. Death Certificates, 1900–2011. Microfilm. Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana;




Posted on

March 28, 2022

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